What does the release of a new dancehall/reggae EP and the description “newly baptised Christian” have in common, other than the word ‘new’? Alicai Harley. The proud ‘yard gyal inna Britain’, born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in London, England, possesses that kind of charming personality that even if she couldn’t sing a note, fans would still be drawn to her. But right beside that girl-with-the-wickedest-freestyles persona, is the soul who wants to embrace the God and godliness within.
Alicai, on January 29, dropped her hot debut EP, The Red Room Intro (Yard Gyal Inna Britain), out now via Parlophone /Warners, along with exciting visuals for one of the songs, titled Put It On You, and she told The Gleaner that the response has been “phenomenal”.
She added, “The EP allowed me to showcase my versatility and growth as an artiste. I loved being able to work alongside some of the amazing featured artistes and producers on this project, which I feel brings so many vibes and flavours.”
The EP sees her collaborating with MOBO Award-winning British rapper Stefflon Don on No Drama; with Afro-swing artiste Kojo Funds on Rushing; and South London rapper Nadia Rose and Nigerian Afrobeats artiste Moelogo on No Rampin. Another track, Do That, features popular sound system selector Tony Matterhorn. Alicai is overwhelmed that the song I Just Wanna Know has amassed over half a million Spotify streams and counting, and she herself is rocking to Tek It To Dem, her dancehall-dipped offering. “Big thank you to everyone who’s bought/ download my EP, The Red Room Intro: Yard Gal Inna Britain. Let me know what’s your favourite track,” she shouted out on social media, and that, for now, is part of her message to the world.
1. How would you describe your new EP, The Red Room Intro (Yard Gyal Inna Britain)?
It’s 10 songs, and some people actually refer to it as the EP/album, but it definitely is an EP. It’s versatile, and it is my biggest and most complete body of work to date.
2. How would you define a ‘yard gal’?
That’s interesting. I remember going to school, and we didn’t want to be called ‘yard gals’. But all of that feeling of discomfort has changed as I get older. When I step into a room, I bring Jamaica with me. I have never stepped away from my culture. I may not be there a lot, but Jamaica is always in my heart. For all of last year, Jamaica was where I wanted to be during lockdown, just to feel the sun.
3. How has it been adjusting to the new way of promoting music?
We have to move with the times and evolve. I have my little space set up, and I do Zoom interviews, and I am on social media doing interviews about the album. I am enjoying it, but I have my bad days when it is especially important for me to stay in good spirits.
4. Are you feeling Reggae Month in Britain?
Oh yes. There is no going out, so I am not feeling it as much as last year, for example, but I hear them screaming the word on radio, with some people even calling it ‘Jamaica Month’.
5. What has coloured the year 2020 for you?
I wish I could say music, but it was more a time to reflect and get back to my purpose and morals. It was a lot of self-assessing and a lot of fasting. I could hear God talking to me, and I even got baptised in December. The truth is that I have said to God that whatever happens with this EP is His will. And if He wants me to give up music, I will, because wherever He leads me, I will go.